Remulla: Bantag sent second surrender feeler

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 09 2023 04:37 PM

George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
Then Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Bantag arrives during an “Oplan Galugad” inside the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City on March 4, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla revealed on Tuesday he received a second surrender feeler from former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag but doubts if the latter is seriously considering to turn himself in.

“There were two feelers sent. One through a Cabinet official and another through one of my friends but it looks like they’re not really serious in surrendering,” Remulla told reporters at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In April, Remulla divulged the first surrender feeler from Bantag was made to a Cabinet official.

The second surrender feeler from Bantag was supposedly made to Remulla's friend from law enforcement six days ago, while he was in the United States to accompany the President in his official visit.

Remulla, who believes Bantag and his former deputy Ricardo Zulueta are a "package deal,” said the two are concerned about where they will be detained.

“One of the topics being discussed was the place of detention. But we’re amenable to special arrangements to DG (director general) Bantag and Mr. Zulueta if that is a problem to them,” he said.

The main concern, according to Remulla, is for Bantag and Zulueta not to be detained at a BuCor facility, where Bantag was previously the director general.

Bantag is accused of plotting the death of radio commentator Percy Lapid and inmate Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman in the Lapid killing, while he was then BuCor chief.

Remulla explained that normally, detainees or persons deprived of liberty undergoing trial are handled by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and not by BuCor.

Some of the inmates who testified against Bantag and Zulueta are however under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), whose main building will soon be demolished to make way for a new NBI building.

“Although when the NBI detention facility is closed down temporarily because of the building to be taken down, they may have to transfer to another facility which might be a BuCor facility, that’s why we’re arranging that, we’re trying to make arrangements for that,” Remulla explained.

Bantag, Zulueta and several others are facing two murder charges over the deaths of Lapid and Villamor.

Lapid was gunned down outside his subdivision in Las Piñas on Oct. 3, 2022 while Villamor was killed inside his detention cell at the New Bilibid Prison on Oct. 18, hours after he was identified by self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial as the alleged middleman.

Warrants for their arrest have been issued by the Muntinlupa and Las Piñas regional trial courts.

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